"There's always some uptown zombies with a glad eye doing a pick-me-up, sometimes promising a holiday with a tequila sunrise on a Montego Bay and hoping for a ride on his piña colada," says the exasperated Mel, one of the four Shakers' waitresses, and the Newnham Old Lab had suddenly turned into the hottest comedy club in town, playing snippets of best tunes from the ‘80s.
The storyline of John Godber's comedy is simple. It's about four girls working it from 7 to 11pm at Shakers, a cocktail bar where they serve real duck liver pâté and some patrons order "pate". No matter how frustrating it is to be seen as legs or racks by greasy ass-pinchers, our four Shakers girls, Carol, Adele, Mel and Nicky, simply smile and serve.
Yet the production (I’m tempted resort to a laundry list of my favourite adjectives from which I’ll refrain) is sassy and smart; the audience cracked up at the end of very jewel-like punch lines.
At times, when spotlight focused on each of the four Shakers girls as they confess what they hide behind their plastic smiles. Carol is a photographer, struggling to make a name for herself in London, with a university degree – the first one in the family. Adele doesn’t have a choice but to wear shorts, which she figures aren’t so bad after all, as commanded by their bar manager; she’s a single mother with no choice but to take the bus instead of a cab returning home.
These “real” concerns are juxtaposed with 21-year-old girls celebrating their fabulous existence, where Andy King’s rejection, bad tanning bed burns and not fitting into size 10 jeans consume their conscious thoughts.
We ask: what is real in this life anyway?
Meanwhile, the turnover of scenes is dynamic and tight; while these girls play multiple roles, the superb framing and acting keep the story line fluid. Even knowing that Godber’s script is a gem to begin with, I speculate that the director Rosie Hamilton may just turn out to be a theatre genius.
Lastly, here's a lesson for the ADC: never, ever underestimate a freshers’ production because no other girls could work the Shakers bar better than Yasmin, Ella, Landi and Matilda. You go girls.